When the Penguins clinched their 12th consecutive playoffs appearance it gave them the longest active streak in the NHL as well as the longest in team history. This team surpassed the previous team mark of 11 straight. The closest current active streak is at six years and as it belongs to the St. Louis Blues is not guaranteed to even reach six yet.
So I thought I’d take a look back at 2006 and some things we did in 2006. The #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 for most of the month of April was Daniel Powter’s Bad Day. You know the song because you heard it literally everywhere.
Stamps cost 39 cents. Steve Irwin was tragically killed by a stingray. Britney Spears and Kevin Federline broke up. The most in-demand Christmas items were the Wii and PlayStation 3.
The Steelers won the Superbowl. The St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series. And the Carolina Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup with their hot goalie, Cam Ward. Sidenote: Cam Ward has now been the goalie in Carolina for 12 years and has led them to the playoffs on only one other occasion. The one where he got categorically embarrassed by Evgeni Malkin in 2009.
Sergei Gonchar was in his first season with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He racked up a 12-46-58 stat line and 100 PIM in 75 games played.
Now Sarge is a Penguins coach and helps guys like Schultz and Letang find and recover their games.
We all remember 2005-2006 in Penguins lore because it was the year Mario retired for good. He left the team mid-season after being diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat. Hockey would never be the same.
And there was, of course, Sidney Crosby. Crosby, as a rookie, put up 102 points and became the first teenager (and still currently the only teenager) to win the scoring title in one of the major sports. Now, Sidney Crosby is the only known member of the exclusive Quadruple Gold Club to have worn the C for all of the teams he won gold with (Quadruple Gold Club refers to winning the Stanley Cup, the Olympics, the World Championships, and the World Cup of Hockey).
In hockey, it signaled a massive changing of the guards. In 2018 we stand and look back at the past 12 years as we witness what some are calling the next changing of the guards. Now, the Crosby/Malkin era team has officially made more straight playoff appearances than the Jagr/Mario Penguins. It’s astounding, really. It’s amazing.
And we take it all for granted. We sit here and moan about glove hands and gap control when no other team out there has been in the playoffs as long as the current group has. Only one team, Chicago, has as many Championships in this timeframe. And they didn’t even make the playoffs until 2008-2009. No other team has been this consistently good. No one has made the number of Stanley Cup Final appearances they have (four) in this timeframe. And, we all know, no one else has won Back-to-back.
For all the change (coaching and general managing) they’ve been through in 12 year. All the roster turnover they’ve had (only Sidney Crosby has been on all 12 teams). Since 2006 they’ve been able to string together this amazing feat of always making that second season. Always having that chance to win. You have to be invited to the dance to win and this team’s had their name emblazoned on an invitation for longer than some of their fans have been alive. And that’s all we can ask for, isn’t it?